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west1974 29-04-2013 13:58

First time - need advice
My husband and myself and another couple are trying to plan a July 2014 sail and have LOTS of beginner questions. We are most interested in a Captain-only monohull or catamaran (none of us are comfortable enough to skipper) and I've found lots of options online, but am just having trouble narrowing it all down. The Exumas appeal beacause of the easy and inexpensive travel in and out of Nassau, but we are also considering the BVI (I see lots of options out of Tortola, but dread the extra time and expense of traveling there). Any advice on choosing one over the other would be appreciated. Since we aren't "doing the driving" its more a matter of which is more enjoyable than which is more easily navigated. Thank you!

maytrix 29-04-2013 14:31

Re: First time - need advice
A lot depends on what you enjoy, but the BVI is a great first charter destination. There is just so much to do regardless of what you enjoy - bars, diving, beaches..etc.

Where are you coming from? St Thomas could be another option - There are a few companies that charter out of there and it can often be easier to get to.

Rubikoop 29-04-2013 16:55

I can offer lots of advice about sailing the Virgins but it really depends on what you and your group enjoy doing. Do you want to go on long sails or short? Do you want to eat dinner ashore at lively beach bars or cook on the boat in isolated anchorages? Those are just examples of questions that only your group can answer.

west1974 29-04-2013 17:33

Re: First time - need advice
Thanks! We will be Sailing for 6 days and eating breakfast and most lunches on the boat but will want to go ashore for dinner. We don't need fancy dinners but good food is important. We don't scuba dive but do like to snorkel and like secluded coves and beaches. We also like a good beach bar and live music. Don't want to have to spend huge amounts of time sailing between destinations just because we only have 6 days.

Rubikoop 30-04-2013 07:57

Re: First time - need advice
There are many options in the Virgins that would meet your needs as you've described them. Next you may want to survey your group and see where your budget and comfort levels cross. Generally cats cost more, provide more space and are more comfortable to sleep in. Monos the opposite. With a boat type and budget in mind, you can then proceed to looking at the different charter companies. Do you want the biggest with little individual attention, a medium sized one or a small one with lots of time and attention spent with you? Do you want to be on a brand new boat, a boat that's a few years older, or an even older boat? The price goes down as boats age? Do you want air conditioning any time you feel warm? All these items increase or reduce the costs. I do not believe there is a best charter company or a best boat. There is a combination that can be best for you and your group to use.

The BVIs check your boxes for short sails, good snorkeling and good food for dinner every night. Getting food and spending the night in secluded coves and beaches don't necessarily go together...

Feel free to ask specific questions.

maytrix 30-04-2013 09:18

Re: First time - need advice
BVI's would be a great location for you. I think almost all of the various charter companies can provide a captain only charter - costs about $150 a day I think and you will need to feed them too and of course provide a cabin.

July is a great time to go - we just booked a trip for this July. It is hot though, so you may want to consider A/C - depends on where you are from and what kind of heat you can tolerate. We have gone without a number of times at various times of the year and can bear it - having shore power at least is something I'd recommend so you can get some relief if you need it.

Take a look at and - lots of great info on both sites. Sailonline also has owners time which is a way to buy time through an owner of a boat in one of the various charter programs at a decent discount.

First place to start is with the other couple and figuring out the budget. Then you could start looking at boats that meet your needs.

Dreaming Yachtsman 30-04-2013 10:26

Re: First time - need advice

Consider chartering with CYOA in St. Thomas and going around St. John. You'll find some of the best snorkeling in the Virgin Islands and can avoid the crowds in BVI's. Travelling to and from there is easier, too. You would need to eat aboard a couple of nights, though, because some of the bays do not have restaurants nearby.

If you are even a little interested, send me a PM and I'll reply with our standard itinerary for a week cruise. We have done that route a dozen times in the past 4 years and everyone we have taken has had a great time.

maytrix 30-04-2013 10:33

Re: First time - need advice
Not to say that snorkeling in St. john isn't good, but it is not the same as the BVI. We've done both numerous times and the sites in BVI are a step above without a doubt.

west1974 30-04-2013 11:53

Re: First time - need advice
Thanks all!
We are most interested in a small catamaran, and once we get that nailed down, I'll come back with specific route questions, but right now I'm getting a little bogged down in the minutiae of all the different companies and rates. Some seem reasonable, but when you add on all the "additional charges" the cost sometimes almost doubles! Some charge huge daily damage waivers, but I'm not sure if we still pay those if we hire a captain since it wont be us sailing the boat. $400 for a cleaning fee. One place quoted us $30 per day/ per person for BVI customs fees (in cash only), but others don't mention those. I'm just feeling a little overwhelmed right now. We'd really like to stay under $5000 total for everything (except groceries and airfare). Not sure that is going to happen :banghead:

maytrix 30-04-2013 12:09

Re: First time - need advice
Whether you use them or not, Moorings and sunsail are great sites to get pricing from - they lay out everything. The one thing that you can't see on the site though is the various options on insurance - I believe you can eliminate the daily charge (or at least reduce it) with an increase of the deductible.

Our first trip, we used the Moorings and have used them ever since (now we're owners) but it was easy to get pricing and figure out the details.

You could also go online and look at Bobby's - they have a spreadsheet (although a bit outdated) where you could order all your provisions. Even if you didn't use them this could give you a good idea on costs for your food.

Staying under $5k for the boat and Captain should be possible. A Sunsail 384 is $4247 (without trip insurance) for a week in July 2014. If you could find that time through an owner, you could be below $5k with the Captain - Possibly even on a Moorings 3900 (same Cat but owners version with Genset) - I know there is a listing on for one. Other companies should have something similar for less too.

If you want to go for a Monohull, feel free to PM me - ours is a Moorings 43.3 and would be available for July 2014 and keep you under $5k no problem.

west1974 30-04-2013 12:42

Re: First time - need advice
I did go to and saw the "Discount Charters" and have sent some e-mails. Is this what you are (and others) are talking about when the say owners time?
And yes, Sunsail and Moorings definitely have the most user-friendly Web sites as far as laying everything out clearly.
The reason we landed on a Catamaran as opposed to a monohull is they just seem to have more usable deck space (trapeze) and are a bit more open. I do think monohulls are more beautiful though :)

maytrix 30-04-2013 13:10

Re: First time - need advice
Yes Discount charters is owner's time. Hopefully you'll get some good responses - I tend to sell our time well in advance but haven't sold any for 2014 yet - don't even have a listing as I sold all our 2013 time before the end of 2012. It tends to go quick!

Cat's do have a lot more room. We've had 5 on our Mono and found that to be fine - plenty of space to relax still, but not as much as a cat of course.

west1974 01-05-2013 06:50

Re: First time - need advice
I did get one response from a Moorings owner who said their owners time was only available 16 days in advance of the sail. Do you know if this is the case with all owners time? I can't imagine waiting until 16 days prior to see if the boat is available and trying to buy pane tickets, etc.
Just trying to figure out if this is an across the board policy or if there might be other owners time that is available further in advance. Thanks for all of your help!

maytrix 01-05-2013 06:56

Re: First time - need advice
It's a bit unusual as owners typically understand most people want to book in advance. What I'd have to guess is that they use all their advanced booking time and only have the short notice time available. It would mean they could put you on any boat available, but there's no guarantees. I wouldn't book that way myself, unless you were looking to go 16 days from today :)

west1974 01-05-2013 07:01

Re: First time - need advice
I wish!!

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